Worldview Security Update – October 23, 2019
23-Oct-19

AMERICAS

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3): On 23 October 2019, President Evo Morales declared a state of emergency amid protests over the outcome of the 20 October presidential election. The state of emergency enables the government to restrict movement and assembly, and also allows the military to assume control of a territory. Morales claimed that he declared the emergency measures to “defend” democracy in view of the ongoing election-related unrest while vote-counting is underway.

In a related development, at 0000 local time (0400 UTC) on 23 October, civic organizations began an indefinite general strike in Cochabamba, La Paz, Santa Cruz, Chuquisaca, Oruro, Beni and Tarija to protest against alleged electoral fraud. Moreover, demonstrations to protest the election results are ongoing and there have been clashes between police officers and opposition protesters. For instance, early in the morning of 23 October, police officers and protesters clashed outside the Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE) in La Paz, but there were no reports of injuries.

Morales has claimed an outright victory in the first round of the presidential polls and labeled the opposition parties’ refusal to accept the outcome an attempted coup d’état. According to official results, with 96.78% of the vote counted, Morales has garnered 46.49%, while opposition candidate and former President Carlos Mesa has secured 37.01%. A lead of less than 10% would result in a second-round of voting.

Chile (Security threat level – 2): As of early on 23 October 2019, the Workers’ United Center of Chile (CUT) — the largest union in Chile — and at least 18 other social organizations, including student unions, plan to hold a general strike and peaceful demonstrations across Chile from 23-24 October. Demonstrations are scheduled to begin in the late morning hours to accompany the strike. Health care workers plan to join the demonstrations, which may result in disruptions to health care services. Meanwhile, limited service on subway Lines 1, 3 and 6 of the Santiago Metro has been restored.

On 22 October anti-government protests continued across Chile. While incidents of looting, vandalism and arson — as well as clashes between protesters and security personnel — continued, there was a decline in the number of incidents of looting and arson of private businesses and public property in Santiago. Although many businesses and shops in the city center area that had been closed on the day prior reopened, a large number of stores elsewhere in the city were closed, and long lines formed at fuel stations. Thus far, violence during ongoing protests has resulted in at least 15 fatalities and hundreds of injuries; authorities have arrested thousands of protesters nationwide and transportation services in the country have been significantly disrupted. In addition, authorities have declared states of emergency and nighttime curfews in a number of locations across the country.

Nighttime curfews remained in effect on 22-23 October for the following locations: Antofagasta, Calama Tocopilla, Mussels, Concepción province, Copiapó, Vallenar, Caldera, Coquimbo, La Serena, Valparaíso, Iquique, Alto Hospicio, Rancagua, Santiago, Talca and Valdivia. In addition, authorities subjected the entire Arica region to the state of emergency beginning on 22 October.

In a related development on the evening of 22 October, President Sebastián Piñera proposed multiple concessions that are aimed at curbing the ongoing unrest in the country. These concessions include higher wages, higher taxes for the rich, a law that would cover the costs of expensive medical bills and a 20% increase in basic pensions.

Chile (Security threat level – 2): The threat level for Santiago has been raised to 3 (Medium) from 2 (Low) in view of the recent deterioration of the overall security environment in the city. Violent protests against rising cost of living expenses have been ongoing in the city on a daily basis since 18 October 2019. Authorities declared a 15-day state of emergency in the city on 19 October and the city has been under a nightly curfew since 20 October. Incidents of looting, rioting, vandalism — as well as clashes between security personnel and demonstrators — have occurred during these recent protest actions. The protests and emergency measures have significantly affected the availability and delivery of goods and services to individuals in the city, and hindered the ability of those in Santiago to move freely. Moreover, in the event that authorities are able to quell protest actions in the near future, the most recent deterioration in the security environment highlights the ongoing threat of civil unrest in the city, particularly due to its status as the national capital.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Ethiopia (Security threat level – 4): As of 23 October 2019, protests are ongoing in several cities in Oromia regional state, including in the national capital Addis Ababa, following reports that the Ethiopian government ordered the departure of a prominent local activist’s security detail on the previous evening. In Addis Ababa, several hundred protesters gathered near the activist’s residence, located along Bole Road, as well as in the Kara Qore area, blocking multiple roads in the outskirts of the city. The protesters set fires and chanted anti-government slogans. Although there have been no reports of significant clashes in the capital, unconfirmed reports indicate that at least two youth protesters were shot and killed in the city of Adama, located approximately 90 km (56 mi) southeast of Addis Ababa.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Bangladesh (Security threat level – 4): On 22 October 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka issued a Demonstration Alert that reads in part as follows:

“Location: Dhaka, other major cities across Bangladesh.

“Event: The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is calling for demonstrations Wednesday, October 23, 2019.

“Local authorities expect gatherings of BNP supporters nationwide. Further demonstrations are expected until Friday, October 25, 2019. There is a possibility of some disruption and delays in vehicle and pedestrian traffic throughout Dhaka.

“Demonstrations may have the potential to become violent. Security forces are known to use tear gas and other crowd control measures against demonstrators, including batons and rubber bullets.

“The U.S. Embassy’s Consular section will remain open for normal business.”

Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): On 23 October 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Ecuador, which reads in part as follows: "The FCO no longer advise against travel to Ecuador (except for areas specified in the vicinity of the border with Colombia)…

"There were nationwide protests across Ecuador between 3 and 13 October 2019 which caused extensive disruption. Some of these protests became violent, especially in Quito, and led to a number of fatalities. A state of emergency was declared on 3 October, which will remain in place until 3 November.

"The Ecuadorean government has announced that a dialogue process is underway to review the economic measures that triggered the protests. However, tensions remain heightened and there is a risk of further protests. If you’re travelling in Ecuador, you should remain vigilant, avoid any protests or demonstrations and keep up to date with developments via official local sources and this travel advice."

France (Security threat level – 3): On 23 October 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for France, which reads in part as follows: "Severe rain and thunderstorms with the potential for flash flooding are forecast for parts of south-western France (especially in the Hérault, Aude, Pyrénées Orientales, Gard, Aveyron and Tarn Departments) from Tuesday 22 October. There could be damage to property, infrastructure and travel disruption. You should follow the advice of the local authorities."

Lebanon (Security threat level – 4): On 22 October 2019, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) issued an update to its travel advice for Lebanon, which reads in part as follows: "The Embassy of Canada to Lebanon will be closed to the public on October 23 due to road closures and demonstrations."